Sustainable Water Infrastructure

Alternative Technologies and Assessment for Water and Wastewater Utilities

When addressing our water infrastructure needs, we can move toward greater sustainability by selecting the right solution to meet each need. An important element of the infrastructure planning process is the evaluation of all of the alternatives for meeting an infrastructure need.

This can mean everything from an evaluation of the latest treatment technologies, to considering distributed or decentralized solutions, to water efficiency or reuse programs that may obviate the need for new water supply infrastructure. The alternatives available depend on the issue that the infrastructure investment is addressing. 

Following are examples of alternatives and links to resources with information on the possibilities.

Treatment Technologies

  • Arsenic Trade Show - Resources for the selection and implementation of technologies to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Green Infrastructure for Wet Weather

Green Infrastructure can be a cost-effective and an environmentally preferable approach to reduce stormwater and other excess flows entering combined or separate sewer systems. EPA works with state and national partners to reduce runoff through approaches like green roofs, trees and tree boxes, rain gardens, and porous pavements. These approaches, combined with, or instead of, traditional approaches to wet weather management, can reduce costs while providing benefits to the community and to the environment.

Source Water Protection

Source Water Protection can be successful in providing public health protection and reducing the infrastructure needs for public water suppliers. Source water quality can be threatened by everyday activities and land uses, ranging from industrial wastes to the chemicals applied to suburban lawns. Protection of source waters can reduce the need for drinking water treatment, and reduce infrastructure needs and the costs of operating and maintaining water systems.

Decentralized Wastewater

On-site/Decentralized Wastewater Management uses septic systems or small package plants that treat and disperse relatively small volumes of wastewater from individual or small numbers of homes and commercial buildings. Septic system regulation is usually a state, tribal and local responsibility. EPA provides information to homeowners and assistance to state and local governments to improve the management of septic systems to prevent failures that could harm human health and water quality. For many communities, the proper management of these smaller systems is more sustainable than large, centralized alternatives.